Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast. ~ Entrance Antiphon, 4th Sunday of Lent

REJOICE! This word begins our worship as the family of God. Worship, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is the, “…participation of the People of God in the ‘Work of God.’” (CCC) 1069. The first thought brought to mind as we, the People of God, enter into the “Work of God” is to REJOICE! – to show or feel great joy or delight!

Hold on just a moment…we are in the middle of Lent, the solemn, and holy season of disciplining ourselves to get ready to walk with Our Lord once again as we recall His passion, death, and Resurrection. These 40 days are to be spent imitating Jesus’ austere 40 days in the desert. We are to give up something good to make room for something greater…God, His Life, His Mercy, His Love. Aren’t we supposed to be reflecting on those areas of our lives in which we struggle to follow God as faithful our lives to God, and increase our prayer, acts of penance, and alms giving? This sounds like a somber time rather than a time to show or feel great joy or delight.

I have never run a marathon; 26 miles seems a great distance to run for the sake of running. I have completed several 5Ks…3.1 miles is about as close to a marathon as I am going to get! I recall seeing the 1.5 miles marker and there came a new sense of energy, hope, and renewal of determination to make it to the end, to finish the race. I have already gone 1.5 miles, and if I can do that, then I can go another 1.6 miles. With each step the remaining distance lessens, and I am closer to my destination. I can do this…take joy that half the distance is covered and only half the distance remains! By the time I worked through these thoughts, I was already at the 1.75 miles marker. Look at that, now less than half the distance it left to cover! 

There is something about a half-way point. Whether in a 5K, a marathon, a course of study, or a project, it is a milestone worth taking a moment to stop and reflect on what has been accomplished so far. While you are smack in the middle of this given work or task, you are now back half of it and the end is near. If that isn’t’ something for which to show great joy or in which to feel delight, I don’t know what is! Sometimes the Church is referred to as Holy Mother Church, and this is for good reason. Much like a mother who knows Her children very well, the Church, in Her wisdom, knows we need encouragement through signs, symbols, and days with significance. She gives us Laetare (Latin for rejoice) Sunday as a milestone, the mark of being half-way through the Lenten Season. Yes, Lent is all that was described above. Yes it is a time when we simplify things, even the decorations in the sanctuary are minimal, all outward signs of the inner disposition of detachment from this of this world to reinforce for us that really all we need is God. But we are halfway through these 40 Days of Lent, O Lord! And so Holy Mother Church says to Her children, REJOICE!

Today, I invite you to consider reflecting on how the disciplines you choose for yourself have impacted your relationship with Christ. How have they impacted your daily life? What changes do you see in your routine, your thoughts, your words, your actions, your habits, your friendships, your relationships, your work, or your prayer life? 

If there is a difference for the better in even one of these areas, REJOICE! Be joyful and take delight that such fruit has already come from your Lenten practice. Be joyful and take delight in the fact that if there has already been notable improvement, you have an equal amount of time remaining and can perhaps, with the help of God’s Grace, double the harvest!

If reflection on the first half of Lent shows you little or no changes have come, or if, like some Lents in my past, it seems you just couldn’t get out of the gate and now Lent is halfway over…well REJOICE! Be joyful and take delight in the fact that you have an equal amount of time remaining to RESET yourself, and, with the help of God’s Grace, you can begin now with renewed energy to engage in the disciplines you set for yourself, making room for more of God in your life.

Finally, REJOICE! Bejoyful and take delight in the fact that in 20 days you will once again have the chance to walk with our Lord through the GREATEST ACT of LOVE anyone will ever do for you- His passion and death. Take a look at your calendar and consider the possibility of coming to worship during the Sacred Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. This liturgy, which spans the course of the three days, is rich with meaning and has the power to transform your Easter celebration to be something like you have never before experienced.

REJOICE! Be joyful and take delight that we are halfway to the annual celebration ofEaster Sunday, and we can once again proclaim, “Alle…”  Oh, wait! Not yet. We are only half-way there.